Hooking students into the cognitive verbs

Hooking students into the cognitive verbs

As Queensland moves to a different way of assessing senior students in the next few years, there has been a great deal of interest in these things called cognitive verbs or key task words. Catherine and I have already done a significant amount of work with several schools in the state showing teachers what the explicit teaching of these cognitions or skills looks like. The explicit teaching of these cognitions has several implications.

Teachers will need to:

  • Know what these cognitive verbs mean
  • Recognise differences in definitions that exist between subjects e.g. evaluate in Maths does not have the same meaning as it does in other subjects
  • Develop a shared understanding of the meanings of these verbs
  • Revisit the teaching-learning cycle (deconstruction, modelling, joint construction and independent construction)
  • Produce a number of subject specific texts that demonstrate the cognition in their subject.
  • Build in explicit teaching episodes in units of work so it is obvious to someone else that these skills are being taught

Many schools and teachers have appreciated the worth of Pat’s Posters for teaching the cognitive verbs and are using the posters, graphic organisers and the How to Write What You Want to Say series in their classrooms.

There are also several activities in Hooking students into learningthat will assist teachers as they teach the cognitive verbs and students as they learn about them.

The activities in Hooking students into learningfor teaching the cognitive verbs are additional to the teaching-learning cycle. It should not be assumed that doing a few lesson starters will be enough to teach the cognitive verbs, but it will certainly help. Many of the cognitive verbs are complex skills that take years to acquire.

While the term cognitive verbs is relatively new, the key task words are not. They include such skills as describing, comparing, analysing, evaluating, justifying, synthesising, etc. Students see these words in assessment. They may be familiar with the words but not have a deep understanding of what they mean, therefore the first lesson starter can be What Does It Mean to Know a Word?on page 90. Students identify their current understanding of the cognitive verbs and the teacher can use this information as formative assessment. They can return to this table for future lesson starters. In the next lesson, students can begin to develop an understanding of the meanings of cognitive verbs through lesson starters similar to the ones on pages 86 and 135. Students match the meaning of the word with the word using a cheat sheet (the answers).

Once students begin to understand what these words mean, they can do the lesson starters on pages 76 and 78. These allow them to see that when the cognitive verb in a question changes then so does the answer. As students’ understanding of the verbs increases the lesson starters on pages 78 and 88 enable them to write rich definitions.

The activities mentioned here are just a few of the hundreds in Hooking students into learning.

Teachers, look no further than this resource for innovative and interesting ways to begin your lessons and get your students working straightaway to develop an understanding of the cognitive verbs.